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Label of the month: Detone

Darren Emerson on 'Evolve' and more

2018 Dec 23     
2 Bit Thugs

With a new compilation series just launched, we catch up with Detone main man Darren Emerson

Set up by Darren Emerson in 2012, Detone recently celebrated their impending seventh birthday with the launch of a new compilation series called Evolve. Which seemed as good a reason as any to make them our Label Of The Month for December and find out a bit more about them!

Emerson describes the label's music policy as "techno, primarily, but we will also release good quality deep house and house tracks". And just a quick glance at their discography will show that they've had no trouble attracting some of the most respected names in those fields to the label: Detone releases over the past (nearly) seven years have come from the heavy-hitting likes of Paul Jackson, Dantiez Saunderson, Saytek, Mutiny and Copy Paste Soul, though there's always been plenty of room in the schedule for lesser-known, up-and-coming talents too. Indeed, the label's biggest seller to date wasn't from one of those big names, but rather G Flame's Turmoil (from 2017).

Now, with the launch of the Evolve series, the label's star only looks set to shine even brighter in 2019. So let's hear what they have to say for themselves...

When was the label set up, and why?

"Detone was set up to showcase my own releases, and also to release music by other people which is up my street."

How many people are involved running the label?

"We have three people involved."

What formats is your music released on – do you release vinyl, or is it all-digital?

"It's all digital, and you can also find our music on Spotify and Soundcloud."

What have been some personal highlights for you over the past seven years?

"I think releasing Saytek's new album Live Stories is right up there, and also the G Flame releases. Plus there's Fundamental Harmonics, P-Ben, Kristen Velvet, Copy Paste Soul, Satoshi Fumi, Rose Tinted and Anna B... we have too many great releases to name all of them!"


Let's talk about the label name - it could be taken as a pun on "D-tone" (as in Darren-tone) or it could suggest a blurring of shades, ie musical boundaries... 

"Yeah, it was an actual pun on the name, as in Darren Tone. Nothing too deep or heavy about it, I was just looking for a name and that sort of stuck!"

Speaking of blurred boundaries, the lines between house and techno are about as blurred right now as they've been in 30 years! Do you agree? And does that make A&Ring a label like Detone easier or harder?

"Yes, I do agree the boundaries are blurred right now. It seems like there's always a new genre coming up, and they try to think of something new, but to be honest the backbone of everything for me is the house and techno genres: everything around that just sort of comes in and out.

"That’s the main thing for me: it's all the same, really. I just love good quality electronic dance music, and it usually comes from house or techno. That’s always been the same for all my labels, either Detone and Underwater – I just love good quality music that moves me."

You've just launched a new mix compilation series called Evolve, which I'm told will be quarterly. That's quite a big commitment, just in terms of the sheer amount of music involved...

"Well, I don't actually think four compilations a year is that big a commitment, to be honest, because we’re always getting loads of good music sent to us to put out on Detone!

"We've got a good team and a great family on Detone, and that’s what it's all about. Evolve is about pushing new stuff, maybe include some of the old tracks that didn’t get used or picked up on, and some of my new bits I’m producing. So I can basically use the album as a bit of a board to showcase what we’re doing with the label."

Will you be helming all the Evolve compilations or will it be a different DJ each time?

"For the moment I’ve just decided to do it myself, but we could change that at some point and invite some of the family to come on and do guest Evolve mixes. So just for now it's me doing it, but it might be quite a good idea to open it up, actually!"

Are there any events or a tour planned off the back of the Evolve comp?

"No major events for the first one, I just want to see how the first Evolve comp goes.

"Of course, I do have some gigs coming up here and there around the world: I’ve got some gigs coming up on Japan in January, so we can push Evolve around that as well. There's a few 3D gigs I’m doing with Danny Howells and Dave Seaman, and some separate gigs I’m doing on my own. So there's no tour as such, but Evolve will be pushed around all the upcoming gigs I’m doing."

Words: Russell Deeks

Evolve, compiled and mixed by Darren Emerson, is out now on Detone

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Tags: Detone, Evolve, Darren Emerson, Underwater, Paul Jackson, Dantiez Saunderson, Saytek, Mutiny, Copy Paste Soul, G Flame, 3D, Danny Howells, Dave Seaman, Fundamental Harmonics, P-Ben, Kristen Velvet, Satoshi Fumi, Rose Tinted, Anna B